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[12 comments]

Target Sets Midnight Opening for Black Friday

October 31, 2011

Among the first retailers to show its holiday-promotion cards, Target Corp. said Friday that its stores will for the first time open at midnight on Thanksgiving Day. Previously, stores had opened at 4:00 a.m.

Target also extended its store hours throughout the season, including:

  • Nov. 25: Midnight to 11 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 7 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 26: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In its statement, Target touted its "Price Match" policy and REDcard Rewards card as a way for holiday shoppers to further save money.

"The holidays bring hectic schedules and tight budgets, so extending store hours and offering lots of additional ways to save makes Target a great choice for affordable, one-stop holiday shopping," said Tina Schiel, executive vice president, stores, Target.

Thanksgiving Day also appears to be looming as a bigger selling opportunity. In the Denver-region, Target this year will be testing opening on Thanksgiving for the first time. According to The Denver Post, 29 stores in the region will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 24. Mark Everett, the executive who oversees area Target stores, said the retailer plans to evaluate the Denver test before deciding whether to expand Thanksgiving hours in other markets.

According to an announcement released this morning, for the first time Macy's will also try out a midnight opening "to kick off the 2011 holiday shopping season."

The Associated Press noted that most Sears and Kmart stores opened last year on Thanksgiving morning for the first time. Toys "R" Us stores last year opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Old Navy began opening some stores on Thanksgiving during the day for a "Gobble Palooza" deal. Walmart, which has most of its supercenters open 24 hours, opened most of its other stores by midnight Thanksgiving evening last year.

Target's news came out as a survey from the Retrevo consumer shopping site last week found that the explosion of daily deal sites may impact bargains as a holiday-shopping incentive. The survey of over of 1,000 online individuals found that 70 percent of 2010's Black Friday shoppers are also members of deal sites. One of three of deal site members also said they buy almost everything on discount regardless of whether it's from a deal site or not.

"We are concerned about the average retailer's ability to provide high caliber deals this Black Friday and even the rest of the year to satisfy this emerging subculture of deal addicts," said Manish Rathi, Retrevo's vice president of marketing, in a statement.

FINANCIALS:     [NYSE:TGT]

Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions: What effect will extended shopping hours on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc. have on holiday season sales for Target and others? How will the popularity of daily deal sites affect regular Black Friday and other promotions run by retailers in November and December?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How much will daily deal sites help or hurt retailers' sales from regular holiday season promotions?

Comments:

Retailers open extended hours for the sole purpose of increasing sales. Every selling hour counts during the big season and remaining open longer adds convenience to your customers. Open at midnight just adds to the mystique of Black Friday. Your diehards will show up in droves at this hour of the night. I'm waiting to see how aggressive daily deals will be this season. You know retailers are going no holds barred on the promos and sales this season. It will be interesting to see how daily deal sites compete with that.

Doron Levy, President, TheMortgageMachine.ca

The proliferation of daily deal sites will impact Black Friday, as cash-strapped consumers look for the best prices on everything. Consumers have been trained not to buy until they can get a 35-50% discount. Armed with smart phones and shopping apps, this is going to be a wild holiday. Who will blink first, retailers or the consumers that retailers have meticulously trained to buy only when a product is on deal?

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

According to the NRF, traffic on Black Friday has more than doubled from 2005 to 2010, to over 20 million shoppers. The implication is that Black Friday is becoming a holiday ritual for many families, not just a crazy day for a few hardy souls.

If this day is a holiday ritual for Americans, then we will see more retailers celebrating their shopper by offering their own versions of rituals. What could this look like? For example, a "Black Friday luncheon special" or maybe a limited-edition designer shopping bag only accessible on Black Fridays.

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Liz Crawford, VP, Strategy & Insights, Match Drive

Opening at midnight should held Target compete with Walmart (and others) for those customers who simply can't wait until the morning to shop. I sincerely doubt that the total spend for all consumers will increase simply because there are more hours to shop.

What will be interesting to watch is what this trend does to the marketing strategies of the deal sites. Will they also try to front load their offers or adapt in a different way? The advantage the brick and motor retailers will have is that they can offer the consumers a number of items in one location rather that forcing the consumer to look through the deals from a variety of sites.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

The retail beat goes on ... it's loud and everlasting.

Retailing is a lot like pro football in that "no plays, or any crafty new plays, are barred." Target will gain some extra sales with its extended shopping hours but could be affected by competitors daily deals and other customer-magnetizing promotions.

The great retail race rushes ever forward to a finish line that doesn't exist.

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Gene Hoffman, President/CEO, Corporate Strategies International

Black Friday still attracts shoppers for whom "the thrill of the hunt" (and the collective experience) is part of the fun. So "daily deal" sites like Groupon may not have a huge impact on results, given that most retailers open their Black Friday specials for sale on their websites a day early anyway. This is the ultimate "deal of the day" shopping experience.

As to extended hours, in about five years we'll all look back with nostalgia about the "good old days" when stores actually closed on Thanksgiving and gave their sales associates a much-needed break with their families. If two mainstream companies like Macy's and Target are leading the way, the rest of the retail world won't be too far behind. The ever-shifting game of expanded hours may be convenient, and it may be a way to capture market share (until the other guy catches up), but it is no long-term substitute for compelling pricing on great merchandise. Let's hope that is part of the Black Friday formula this year, too.

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Dick Seesel, Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC

Target had to make this change to keep up with the competition. I feel for the employees who have to work these events, but it is clearly become more of the norm than the exception.

I said it last year...we continue to creep towards Thanksgiving eventually becoming a major shopping day.

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Doug Fleener, President and Managing Partner, Dynamic Experiences Group

Longer hours, more shopping, more dollars. The equation is a simple fact of retailing. Ask any 24 hour restaurant, gas station or grocery store and you will get the same reply. Opening early means that Target will get to the consumers first, which increases the spending that consumers will do at Target, minimizing any possibility of spending their dollars at other retailers. The early bird gets the worm, and Target is early!

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Kai Clarke, President, Kowa Optimed, Inc.

Is there anyone who doesn't know Target is going to open at midnight? The media sure made it a big story and that alone makes it pay off.

Extended hours are all about convenience. Opening early and staying open late makes sense for an entire society that is busy between 9 and 5 and beyond.

Ultimately, the winners will be the shoppers as all retailers extend their hours and gain no competitive advantage.

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Gene Detroyer, Professor, Independent

Let the insanity begin. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Retailers are going to brutalize each other worse than ever this year, and there will be a trail of battered stores in the wake. There are way too many stores (brick & mortar plus the web) for all of us to do well, and the deals will have to be really hot for the consumer to bite. Employees in these stores will be stressed out to the max, and probably will have to work on Thanksgiving in order to get ready for the onslaught.

I, for one, find this sad, as many employees can no longer enjoy a wonderful holiday with their families, as these big retailers start the war much earlier than ever, without any regard for their employees. It's sad, and I'm probably in the minority in this thinking.

No matter, because it will come and go, and I hope and pray that nobody gets trampled on, by some crazed lunatic, who desperately needs that $99.00 TV set.

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Tony Orlando, Owner, Tony O's Supermarket & Catering

"What effect will extended shopping hours on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc. have on holiday season sales for Target and others?"

None.

'notcom'

In the end, the net effect will be zero. Does it do Target any good? No.

Tony Orlando has it about right. For every crazed customer that will hurt another to get to a $99. TV, there are dozens, if not hundreds and thousands more that would prefer a great experience at a fair price.

In the long run, catering to a few could eliminate the opportunity to capture the many.

The changes that continue to raise the ante for Black Friday give retailers nothing more than a black eye in most cases.

As a retailer, setting yourself up for disaster invites just that.

It's the wrong approach.

'Scanner'

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